Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dissent and Disloyalty: The FBI’s obsessive inquiry into Edward R. Murrow

In the white heat of the Red Scare, journalists were often at the center of the unceasing national probe over patriotism. Over 700 pages of files on Edward R. Murrow, released via FOIA by Shawn Musgrave, detail the FBI’s intricate special inquiry into the mythical American newsman.

In 1961, the FBI conducted a special inquiry into Murrow at the White House’s request in order to vet him for Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA). The records begin with the accusation that Murrow’s name appeared on a mailing list for the National Committee to Defeat the Mundt Bill, a proposed piece of anti-Communist lobbying.

Edward Murrow was outspoken in his telecasts against the witch hunt tactics conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), in particular the techniques of Senator Joseph McCarthy. He verbally combated the Senator on his “See It Now” program, prompting national criticism of McCarthy’s hostile and manipulative investigation techniques.

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